I am fortunate enough to have more than one home; I think that I actually have three. To me, home is Glendon, is where I long to be after a long day of braving the wind and snow. It is where my life and my future are right now; after a long day of walking downtown my pace quickens when I see that York University sign on Bayview and Lawrence.Home is Colombia, my grandmother’s cooking, horseback riding with my grandfather up in El Retiro and eating sweeting popcorn surrounded by my cousins in a movie theatre.
And last, and maybe more so, home is Ecuador. Say “think home” and the first image that comes to mind is a great green mountain. This is where I grew up, my parent live here. My room with all my books and pictures is here. I read my first words here, I made friends, I graduated high school; I built all my hopes and dreams from inside the shelter of the Andes, even if they are not to be fulfilled within.
Well right now my home is hurting. On Saturday April 16 2016, an earthquake of a 7.8 magnitude shook the country. I was lucky enough to 170 kilometers away from the epicenter. My parents and I gathered next to one of the inner columns in my apartment and waited it out. The pictures fell from their hooks and several walls cracked. It was the strongest earthquake I had ever felt and possibly the longest, but I did not worry too much about it. There was no irreparable or long-lasting damage. I did not know that I had been too far to have really felt it. I went to bed without giving it too much of a thought. But I woke up to something different.
More than forty-eight hours after, the number of dead and missing continues to rise. The number of fallen buildings is counted in the thousands. People in cities and towns have no basic supplies like medicine, food, or water. Even the most commonplace items like diapers and hygiene pads are lacking. What is worse is that the issue is not just that people affected don’t have enough money to buy supplies, but there are no supplies at all or people have no access to them. There have been several hundred aftershocks occurring periodically ever since Saturday evening, so that the earth already unstable continues to shake. There is a lot of looting and break-ins, people are afraid to even move. The affected area covers the expanse of four provinces making it so that there are many people still waiting for help.
However, the situation in cities away from the disaster is heartening. You will not find a single gallon of bottled water anywhere. The shelves containing perishables, first aid items and other supplies are completely bare. All able firefighters, rescuers, doctors, nurses and volunteers are being flown into the area. All day long, pick-up trucks filled with donate clothes, shoes, toys, and even dog food, have driven up to collection centers where hundreds of volunteers carry, sort and package them to be transported by trucks. People who don’t have ten dollars to give away, give five.
We are not a country normally used to helping each other, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t. Maybe, just maybe, we will be able to fix our home together.